Monday, June 24, 2024

NHC Endowment unveils $19 million affordable housing plan

The state's top lobbyist for the home-building industry went to Raleigh to appeal a state decision requiring building frame inspections before further construction. (Port City Daily photo / File)
The New Hanover County Community Endowment announced on May 29 it is allocating up to $19 million as part of its affordable housing investment strategy. (Port City Daily/file photo)

WILMINGTON — The New Hanover Community Endowment announced it is allocating up to $19 million as part of its affordable housing investment strategy.

According to a press release sent out Wednesday morning, the funding will toward existing and future housing programs.

“Our investment strategy underscores our unwavering commitment to addressing this challenge head-on, with a focus on tangible solutions and community collaboration,” Network Officer Terri Burhans, who oversees the community development pillar for NHCE, said in the release. “We recognize that housing is just one facet of the broader goal of enhancing residents’ financial stability, and we’re looking at both innovative and proven strategies to increase income and lower expenses for our residents.”

The Affordable Housing Investment Strategy comprises three key focus areas:

  • Stabilization: $8.1 million in core operating support over three years to nonprofit housing providers identified in the 2023 grant cycle
  • Production: Facilitate the production and rehabilitation of affordable housing units through a rolling grants cycle using up to $11.5 million in 2024
  • Capital: Exploration of creating a fund to provide low-cost capital for development projects aligned with the goal of increasing and preserving affordable housing. The study will be a collaborative effort engaging with city and county authorities, convening housing partners, and consulting subject matter experts to formulate actionable recommendations.

According to Chris Boney, chair of the NHCE’s grants committee, the endowment received over $50 million in housing grant requests in the 2023 cycle.

Burhans told Port City Daily applicants in 2023 are invited to apply first in the 2024 cycle, but the strategy is open to all nonprofit housing providers.

“We urge them to reach out to us to start the process,” Burhans wrote in an email to Port City Daily.

She added the endowment is looking to address housing issues for residents making up to 120% of the area median income. The median household income of New Hanover County in 2022 dollars is $67,515.

The endowment intends to distribute the grants this year.

The announcement comes as the endowment has faced more calls from elected officials, nonprofit workers and the community to address the housing crisis in New Hanover County. The area has a growing gap in housing, increasing annually by almost 3,000 units, making the cost of living in the coastal county ever more burdensome.

More than half of renters are housing cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, and the community’s most vulnerable, the unsheltered, add more to the ranks each year. According to the Cape Fear Continuum of Care’s unofficial 2023 point-in-time count, there are 558 individuals considered homeless in the tri-county region, almost half of which are unsheltered.

The New Hanover County commissioners and Wilmington City Council are also in process of developing a joint strategy to address homelessness, with the final product scheduled to come before the officials in August.

[This article has been updated to add that applications are available to all nonprofit housing providers.]

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